GameDay Preview: Winnipeg Jets aim to keep playoff hopes alive, host Ottawa Senators in matinee affair

Bruce Bennett

The Jets return to action this afternoon at the MTS Centre needing two points to stay afloat in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Preview

The Winnipeg Jets will have a chance to quickly wash the bad taste of their last game out of their collective mouths this afternoon as they play host to the Ottawa Senators in game one of a Hockey Night in Canada triple-header.

After getting roughed up royally by the LA Kings on Thursday night, the Jets desperately need two points out of todays matinee and have a good chance to do so against a struggling Sens squad who've lost two in a row and three of four since the Olympic break.

However, the Jets offence has dried up big time since the injury to super-rookie Mark Scheifele, as they've put up just two goals in the near 4 1/2 periods since #55 went down with knee injury. Craig Anderson and his 0.907 sv% will need to be tested early and often if the Jets want to bust out of this offensive slump. Looking at you, Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane.

With the Phoenix Coyotoes visiting the Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild visiting the Dallas Stars after this game is complete, the Jets will want to put two points on the board to make scoreboard watching that much easier for all of us.

Keys to the Game

Winnipeg Jets

"Just win, Baby" -  The Jets haven't been getting much help from the Out-of-Town Scoreboard of late, so they need to take matters into their own hands and take care of their own business. Two points, regardless of the fashion, are a must if they wish to improve on the 9.4% chance of making the playoffs that they have to begin the day. However, it might help if they take more...

Shots, Shots, Shots - The Jets have managed to put 20 or fewer shots on net in two of their last three games, including only 18 the other night against the Kings. Putting more rubber on the opposition's goaltender should be a major focus. Speaking of goaltenders...

Stand Tall - Ondrej Pavelec was the best player the other night for the home team, and has been darn good since the Olympics with a 2-1-1 record and a 0.938 sv%. But with Jets having given up an average of 36.0 shots against in those four games, they'll need to have Ondrej continue to stand tall and hopefully fend off the regression that many expect...

Ottawa Senators

Keep Hope Alive - The Senators were surprisingly buyers at the trade deadline, picking up Ales Hemsky from the Oilers despite only having an 8.6% chance themselves of making the playoffs. They've clearly not given up on the season, but their playoff push in the easier Eastern Conference will require two points today.

Act Fancy - The Sens may be near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but they have the 9th overall Corsi-For percentage (CF%) and 14th-overall Fenwick-For percentage (FF%) at 5v5 close, according to Extra Skater. The #fancystats would suggest that the Sens are team that manages to out-possess their opposition, yet they could use the odd...

Save Tonight - It's not that Craig Anderson (0.907 sv%) or Robin Lehner (0.912 sv%) have been terrible this season, but both tenders have GAA's north of 3.00. With the positive possession numbers and terrible GAA's, it would make sense that the Sens have a PDO of 99.2 in all situations (T-21st). The Anderson-Pavelec battle today will be an interesting one to watch.

Player to Boo Mercilessly

Bobby Ryan. Because he can't spell intense. And no, I totally didn't need to use spellcheck there...

Bold Prediction

Ales Hemsky celebrates his freedom from the mess in Edmonton by scoring twice in a 4-2 Ottawa Senators win.

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